First contact with Japanese language learning at SOAS

About two weeks ago I came from the 6 day intensive Japanese learning at SOAS.

The pace was quite insane and we did in just a week (6 hours a day) pretty much everything I have been doing in one full year at Casa Asia in Barcelona (~70 hours), and then some more (kanjis aside).

SOAS structured the classes in three levels, with about 8-10 people per class, except for the higher level which was just about 5 people. In case you want to have a look at what we faced with:

  • Beginner level: Most people went here. Just three weeks before, they had been handed Hiragana and Katakana drill books, and were supposed to know them pretty well by the time we got to SOAS. (those are indeed pretty easy to learn, but keep in mind this people had a job during those three weeks and had to do and understand everything on their own, so most of them could read like a word per minute…).

    From then on, pace was breathless, going from absolute zero to lesson 12th of textbook Minna no Nihongo (darn good textbook IMHO, specially its grammar notes), for those that know it.

  • Non-beginner I: Started kanji from scratch, having 10 of them a day (that’s not a typo) using Basic Kanji Book, and went from Lesson 13th to 22nd of Minna no Nihongo I.
  • Non-beginner II: Just a handful of guys of mixed skills (from someone having lived for some years in Japan, to some others that studied it for quite a few years). This was too much for my body, so cannot tell, but I do know they could read far more kanji than the ones I more or less know (~150). They were supposed to know pretty much everything from both volumes I and II of Minna no Nihongo.

Since it was pretty insane to think that people assimilated anything from such a squeezed timetable, we will be doing review on our own from now until the beginning of february, through SOAS e-learning program and by having 1 hour one-to-one live classes (through Skype, MSN, phone or whatever everyone has at hand). I’m talking to Noriko-sensei tomorrow morning for the second time. I actually have to say that last time was quite fun.

Unfortunately for me, though, at non-beginner I, everything at SOAS was just a review, for the third time (it was not new to me at Casa Asia either), so was somewhat boring T_T. There was quite a huge gap between non-beginner I and II, so the smart guys really went quite far from my reach. That means, then, that until February I will be re-re-reviewing. Oh well, still, at the pace classes go, everything will start to be new by the time we go back to London next February…

Note: You can download flash cards matching vocabulary from Minna no Nihongo, compatible with JFC, at japandiary.ch

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